The Evolution of the Entrepreneur – How to Shatter the Growth Ceiling
Historically, it is estimated that 96% of all small businesses fail within the first ten years. The success of an entrepreneur or small business owner is often determined by the way they choose to handle early growth. There is a critical point when the focus must quickly shift from launching the business to growing the business. And successful entrepreneurs must be willing to embrace the concept of leverage to actually move the business forward while still managing the day-to-day whirlwind. As you can imagine, this growth comes with a host of growing pains, including how to:
- Manage cash flow to invest in the business
- Find and keep the right staff to help the business grow
- Implement operational practices to make sure the day-to-day tasks are completed
- Appropriately position the business in front of customers to drive sales
- Juggle personal and family obligations while investing time in the business
- Avoid burnout, anxiety, frustration and the general highs and lows of being a new business owner
The natural progression of growth from idea to startup and then finally small business is full of challenges coming from all directions (financial, business-related, personal). As a business moves toward scale, it and the aspiring entrepreneur inevitably hit a hard growth ceiling. This is the place where another layer of people, systems and processes are required to experience sustainable growth. It’s also a critical time for finding a “better way” and using collaboration to leverage the resources, people and tools around you.
There Is a Way to Overcome the Growth Pains
Despite so many startups calling it quits within the first few years, this trend is quickly changing as more businesses are able to overcome the growth ceiling by making behavioral and mindset changes, utilizing best practices and taking advantage of business opportunities.
In an effort to start working on their businesses rather than only in their businesses, entrepreneurs are finding creative ways to study, learn from and implement proven growth hacking and execution strategies by leveraging their current skills and tools.
But, what does leverage really mean for the entrepreneur and small business owner? How can you generate more leads, close more sales and save more time and money? You must have a strategy and a system for how you approach it.
So here are three ways that you, the entrepreneur, can focus on leveraging the things within your entrepreneurial ecosystem to scale your business.
1 | Leverage Your Money
Finding ways to get higher output without sacrificing your bottom line is a constant challenge, even for large companies. Taking advantage of free or inexpensive online tools, hiring freelancers and establishing automated systems for day-to-day tasks can all be easy ways to make your dollar go further. The more money left in your business, the better you are able to grow your business and propel the entrepreneurial process. It’s true – it takes money to make money. But investing wisely in the ecosystem built around your business can mean the difference between looking up at the growth ceiling and standing on it as a launchpad.
Here are a few examples of how you can leverage your money to grow your business.
Outsource content writing. Content is king. If you don’t have great content to post and share (blogs, press releases, case studies, thought leadership guides, etc.), then you’re losing ground. Unfortunately, content does take time—something the traditional entrepreneur often lacks. Thankfully, there are plenty of virtual companies and platforms that offer great content from specialized writers at a low cost to create the building blocks for progress.
Find a freelance graphic designer. Whether you’re in need of a logo, infographic, brochure or formatted case study, hire a freelance designer to tackle your one-off projects. They may charge only $25 to $100, especially if they’re new to the profession.
Free PR. Instead of using the expensive solutions of bigger companies (i.e. PR newswire), use tools like PRLog that allow you to submit your press releases for free with the same results. And for as little as $25, platforms like Quuu help push your content to major influencers. Influencers are a driving force for spreading brand awareness.
Explore data scraping. Instead of spending money to attend or exhibit at industry tradeshows, hire a freelancer to scrape all of the tradeshow websites and capture influencers in your market. Then, you can hire a freelancer that specializes in social media marketing to connect with them on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
2 | Leverage Your Time
If you’re like most entrepreneurs, you’re in the business every day, sun up to sundown, with limited time to plan, collaborate with potential business partners and find new ways to take your business to the next level. Outsourcing time-restrictive tasks with online management tools will free up your time for brainstorming, strategic planning and execution.
Leading entrepreneurs are using these strategies to better allocate their time and boost the entrepreneurship process.
Hire a virtual assistant to keep up with competitors. Studying what others around you are doing takes significant time. Save time and money by hiring a virtual assistant who can conduct online market research, compile a spreadsheet of your competitor’s information and even collect their marketing materials.
Use handwriting robots. In today’s digital world, a nice follow-up handwritten letter can do wonders in advancing a sale. Bond can create inexpensive handwritten letters and notes and send them to sales prospects with a click of a button.
Leverage online tools. If you want to do some cyber spying to learn what online marketing strategies are working for your competition, try free tools like SpyFu that allow you to quickly download all your competitor’s top performing keywords and see their Google Ads.
3 | Maintain a Mindset of Execution
Build and Leverage the Network Around You. If you’re spending 25% of your time working on your business and 75% of your time working in your business, then it’s time to shift your focus. The time you spend working ON your business is what moves it forward. Build a trusted and experienced team of freelancers and employees to take the operational tasks off of your plate, so you can shift from operations to strategy.
When you’re scaling the economic growth ceiling, consider these examples of how other entrepreneurs are building a network of resources.
Find your niche and stick to it. As the visionary behind the business, your time is likely best spent networking, speaking to prospects and creating a growth strategy. Figure out what you are the absolute best at doing in your business, and free up your time to do it.
Be okay with letting go. Instead of spending 4-5 hours writing content or trying to learn how to update your WordPress website, outsource the project and free up your time for more important matters. Remember to always ask yourself, “Is this the best way for me to spend my time?” If the answer is “no,” then find a freelancer to do the work.
Implement an Operating System. Having an operating system to bring discipline and accountability into your business is essential to establishing and executing goals as a team. Whether it is the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), The Gazelle’s Scaling Up System (Rockefeller Habits), The 4 Disciplines of Execution or a similar program, the key is to find a system you like and implement it. Keep in mind that you don’t have to invest in the full program right off the bat. Each program offers free resources on their website, and books are available for less than $20 on Amazon that summarize each system.
The 21st century evolutionary entrepreneur has many more tools at their disposal than their predecessors. Using a blend of creativity, data and execution resources to find paths of growth overlooked by others is helping small businesses around the world experience unprecedented growth. The key is how to unearth proven growth hacking strategies to maximize your time, get more out of your financial investment and create a self-sustaining network of people focused on growing your business. Leveraging the expertise of other entrepreneurs and growth hackers can be a great place to start, so look out for networking and workshop opportunities.
Editor’s note: Interested in learning more about these principles and how to effectively scale your business? Join Brad for a lunch event on October 19th at Roam Buckhead as he explores these topics and more. The event is free and spots are limited. To register and learn more, click here.